Health care professionals see immediate use for PCIT skills

Local health care professionals who received Parent-Child Interaction Therapy training last year have easily added the treatment into their caseloads.

“PCIT has helped me to feel stronger and empowered as a clinician,” said Samantha Shafer, Out-Patient Therapist with Tri-County Mental Health. 

“At this point in my practice, there is not one family that I am working with that I am not either using PCIT or CARE skills with as part of treatment,” she added.

Last year, 10 social workers and two psychologists went through an intense week-long training workshop of this evidence-based treatment for young children with emotional and behavioral disorders.

Annette Sauselen, Professional Clinical Counselor and Art Therapist with Hocking County Behavioral Health Services in Logan (a division of Health Recovery Services), is one of three Logan-based HRS staff members to receive training. She says the treatment method fits perfectly with many of her clients.

“Often, families are seeking services to get help with parenting strategies, ways to manage their child's behaviors more effectively, and to strengthen the family system,” she said.

The training, conducted by two specialists from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, consisted of lectures, role-play and live coaching. They’ve also provided weekly consultation calls for one year.

“When I started working in this field, I quickly noticed a theme: Parents or guardians would bring their child in for therapy, but they always came in with the hope that the therapist could wave some magic wand to cure their child,” Shafer said. “I knew I did not have a magic wand, but I wanted so much to be able to help my clients and their families. After the first day of the PCIT training, I knew it was exactly the set of skills I had been missing to help.”

In PCIT, parents are taught specific skills to establish a nurturing and secure relationship with their child, while increasing their child’s pro-social behavior and decreasing negative behavior. And according the Shafer, it’s working.

“I have witnessed mothers brought to tears as they report to me that for the first time in months, they enjoyed playing with their child,” she said. “I have watched tough fathers learn to play and praise their children. I have reports from teachers that behaviors and grades of the child are improving.”

Both Sauselen and Shafer hope other providers can take advantage of this unique opportunity. Shafer is currently training TCMHC-Logan Child Case Managers the CARE skills; CARE is a modified version of PCIT. Shafer is also slated to train the STARS Unit teachers and aids of two schools in the Logan-Hocking district.

“I believe PCIT has the opportunity to strengthen entire communities,” Shafer said. “That is why I hope it continues to spread and be utilized in this area.

The training was made possible by Project LAUNCH funds and through the efforts of Health Recovery Services and Tri-County Mental Health and Counseling Services.